Tuesday, December 31, 2013
Oscar Wilde on The Artistic Life (from De Profundis)
“A man whose desire is to be something separate from himself, to be a member of Parliament, or a successful grocer, or a prominent solicitor, or a judge, or something equally tedious, invariably succeeds in being what he wants to be. That is his punishment. Those who want a mask have to wear it.
But with the dynamic forces of life, and those in whom those dynamic forces become incarnate, it is different. People whose desire is solely for self-realization never know where they are going. They can’t know.”
Oscar Wilde is saying that if you want to be something other than yourself, you may well succeed, but that may not bring happiness. The true path to fulfillment is to focus on self realization.
Every year at this time people make New Years resolutions, our self development society depends on this idea of setting resolutions or goals for oneself. The Self development industry is goal obsessed. Its focus and drive is on helping you become. People buy books on how to become a rich businessman or a famous this or successful that.
The trouble with external goals like these is that they don’t give you what you are actually looking for When you achieve your goals, you have only given yourself what Wilde calls “your punishment.”
Put all your efforts into becoming rich or successful in your career, and you may become so. However, that does not mean you’ll be happy.
External labels are alluring and society shapes itself around us to make us wear our uniforms as ourselves, forgetting that self realization and true, fulfilling happiness is a separate quest entirely.
So rather than making a concerted effort from now on to focus only on your external goals, try to focus on self realization. This doesn't mean you cannot set goals or resolutions for external gain. Goal setting is extremely useful, but it’s just one step in the journey, not the final destination.
If you have the courage, start consciously asking yourself whether what you are searching for is really what you want, or whether it’s just “fools gold” that won’t help you actually feel fulfilled in the long term.
What Oscar Wilde realized was that if you spend all your time and energy trying to achieve a certain status or title, you may do so, but that’s all you’ll ever be. If however you focus on developing as a person, and fully actualizing the essence of who you are, you can never tell what you will become, but whatever it is, you’ll be sure to enjoy the journey.
There is no road map to self realization but to make a start think about what Oscar Wilde said and apply the idea of combing both self realization to your goals of becoming or doing something, and if you do you should be successful and have a wonderful 2014